Carolco Picture’s answer to Universal’s mega budgeted Kurt Russell vehicle “Lazer Tag”, “Photon” was a kinetic, white knuckled action thriller with unique concepts and production design that would influence not only filmmakers at the time but filmmakers to this day. Known for his role as David Addison in the ABC TV series “Moonlighting”, Bruce Willis at first seemed an odd selection for the lead role of Jarvis, Photon champion and veteran of a thousand games, but Willis’ performance as the steely eyed warrior was tempered with a subtle mix of cunning and wisdom. John Dykstra’s special effects team constructed iconic vehicles, weaponry and landscapes that in many ways redefined the role that special effects play in a film. “Photon” became a pay channel staple in the years following its release and a 20th anniversary “special edition” theatrical re-release featured restored “cut” scenes and ramped up special effects.
I really wanted Lazer Tag as a kid, but I received Photon and was mildly disappointed only because I could never play with all my friends and their Lazer Tag guns. This commercial though makes a compelling argument for Photon. I mean that guy and his electric white hair must be pretty wise to have a collar that large.
In the mid-1980s you needed to make an important decision, that would affect the rest of your life. Do you get a Lazer Tag or Photon set. Me I wanted Lazer Tag, but my family thought they were being smart and picked me up a Photon set for Christmas. It made financial sense. With Lazer Tag you had one gun, but when you bought the Photon Target Set you got two guns. Instant fun! Problem was all my friends had Lazer Tag guns. So while I could look pretty awesome playing target practice with two guns by myself. All my friends were out on the streets Lazer Tagging. Eventually I would save up for my own Lazer Tag gun and would play with my Photon guns alone at home.
I always thought that Photon looked like something out of Star Wars while Lazer Tag was pure Star Trek.